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U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and
Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Lamberto Dini

Joint Press Conference, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Rome, Italy, July 28, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Blue Line

FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I would like to express a word of thanks and gratitude to the Secretary of State for traveling from the Far East to Europe and then moving on to the Balkans States in the coming days, and has taken the time and has accepted the invitation to come to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a detailed exchange of views and confronting notes on recent developments, especially on the Balkans situation. That is what we have done. We have also discussed other matters, but we have concentrated our attention on this. Our major concern is that the process of building up, not only the military, but the police and the civilian administration in Kosovo, is proceeding slowly, perhaps more slowly than we had anticipated, and certainly more slowly than we had wished to see this built-up to occur, considering the difficult problems that have still to be resolved in Kosovo after the entrance of the KFOR and the return of the refugees that today is almost complete.

I have indicated to the Secretary of State that Italy will complete rapidly the presence of its military contingent in its own area and also the provision of the police elements that we have pledged that between Carabinieri and our members of the police forces that there will be very soon in Kosovo first under KFOR control and command and subsequently under UNMIK command, about 350-370 between Carabinieri and our police forces. So this will be our contribution.

Secondly, the Stability Pact which is a framework, a strategic framework, for bringing security, democracy and, I think, progress in the entire region. I think that this Pact is a strategic factor which is viewed with interest and has the full support of all nations, and particularly the support of the United States. In that, too, we would like to see now that the persons that are to lead and guide the Stability Pact have been appointed, at least the main ones, so that concrete progress can be made.

There is a need for an acceleration of aid, the reconstruction aid, by the principle agencies; that is, the European Union, the United Nations in part, and the bilateral aid for projects that are essential to the reconstruction of Kosovo and the reconstruction and the development of the region. We are all committed to see that this process proceeds as rapidly as possible. Actually, we would like to see that all that is speeded up.

There will be an important meeting in Sarajevo on Friday which will be attended by all the leaders of the Western nations and others and the leaders of the region which will be more than of symbolic importance, that meeting. It is intended to launch, exactly, this strategic program for the stability and the security of the entire region. Thank the leaders of the Western nations, and the Eastern countries will be there to give, to provide this important signal and stimulus to the entire process; that then it will be up to the national governments to carry on and also with the international institutions. This is briefly a broad and general introduction of the subject matters which we have discussed in detail with the Secretary of State, and I will turn, of course to Mrs. Albright for her own comments.

Thank you. Madeleine.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Foreign Minister Dini. It's a pleasure, indeed, to be in Rome and to have an opportunity to have such a friendly and broad exchange of views about the subjects that the Foreign Minister mentioned. Let me say that it is just a continuation of the extremely good communications and cooperation we had throughout the military part of this campaign. I spoke to Foreign Minister Dini practically every day and consider Italian support for the entire activity as exemplary and as having contributed greatly to the success. I thank the Foreign Minister for the use of Aviano throughout the campaign and I fully understood the difficulties that it placed upon Italy for allowing those kinds of extensive military operations to take place out of that base which is so very important to us.

I do think that the stage we are about to enter, which is building the peace, is extremely important. We expect to have exactly the same kind of cooperation in place as we had during the war. It is exactly that kind of discussion that the Foreign Minister and I had about how the Stability Pact would work, how the reconstruction efforts would work, and how we would support and cooperate with the United Nations. We are especially grateful for the Carabinieri who are able to perform a unique role as they did in Bosnia. We are very grateful that the Italian government is contributing that large a number. The United States is going to be contributing 450 police to that operation also, and we hope very much that it will get going very quickly.

I won't cover the same ground that the Foreign Minister did. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Dini, have you talked about the role that Minister Ibrahim Rugova could have in Kosovo?

FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: We have taken note of the fact that President Rugova has not been playing an active role since the arrival of KFOR in Pristina. I have mentioned to the Secretary of State that the Italian government has been encouraging Mr. Rugova to return to the region, to play the roles that his own elections have entitled him to play in Kosovo, to play an active role. He is a person that can bring moderation and certainly he has to get more active than he has been so far. In particular, we had encouraged him to be part of the meetings that have taken place with the KFOR and the United Nations administration in Kosovo - something from which he has shied away. We expect him to go back soon to Pristina and to resume his political role together with the other leaders that have emerged in more recent times.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I plan to meet with representatives from his party when I'm in Pristina tomorrow.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you agree with the decision to cut short General Clark's position at NATO. Foreign Minister Dini, has Italy now agreed to support Turkey for the EU?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that obviously that is a decision that is made by the military, but I would like to say that I believe that General Clark has done a tremendous job in the whole military campaign in Kosovo. He was able to navigate through some very difficult decisions. He has, and I say, has because he is continuing in the position; he has the support of the U.S. Government clearly, and has my personal admiration for everything he had done. Foreign Minister Dini and I spoke about this. He may wish to add his comments. But I think that he has done a great job at a time when NATO was asked to do something that it had not done for forty-eight years, which is actually to carry on an active military operation.

FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: I would like to confirm that the Italian government and I myself personally, we have had always great respect and esteem for General Clark; that he had the most difficult task of them all during the conflict. In the course of that difficult period, we have had contacts, of course, we have had to have discussions, but I think we have always admired the way he has conducted the operations. And again although some of his statements may have been interpreted, I know, as being critical of one country or another, including Italy, General Clark has never made a statement to that effect. We certainly appreciate his judgements and the way he has conducted the operations, as I said, in the most difficult job of them all, during the conflict. So we wish him well for the future.

Concerning Turkey: in the European Union, Italy has consistently supported Turkey to become closer, to get closer to the European Union and supported its aspiration, tomorrow to become a member of the Union. Turkey, however, is aware that there are some basic principles that govern the Union. They are the principles of democracy, the respect of individual rights, civil rights, human rights, which the European Union cannot derogate. So I think we look forward to Turkey making further progress in these different fields. At the same time, Italy is prepared to support Turkey's aspiration to get closer to the European Union, and in the course of time, and eventually, become a full member of the Union. We consider Turkey to be part of Europe and not to be part of any other continent or any other world.

QUESTION: Regarding aid for reconstruction, what position will be adopted on Serbia? There has been talk only of humanitarian aid, but have there been some differences about this?

FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: The lady is asking what kind of line we would be taking concerning aid to Serbia, humanitarian aid and others.

This is a matter that has been under discussion and under constant review on the part of the countries, particularly the Quint, but more generally the European Union and with the United States, has been under constant review. I think there is consensus, and there is a broad line of agreement on the part of the main countries of the European Union, Italy and the United States. We should do all we can to provide help to the Serbian people and to the Serbian population, but no intention through this assistance to provide direct aid to Milosevic's regime. We are all convinced that what is needed in Serbia today is a process of democratization of the country, and our expectation is that the Serbian people will gradually raise up to this expectation and will take their own destiny in their own hands and in the course of time, hopefully through peaceful means, so that a democratic system may be established.

Now what constitutes humanitarian aid and would help a country generally is dividing line which is seen and is not easy to define. Certainly what is essential, I think, we will try to provide. In the meantime, there is no agreement on lifting or suspending the sanctions that have been imposed on Serbia by the European Union and by the international community more generally. We will keep this matter under review, we will discuss this matter also with the Secretary General of United Nations, but the line, basically I think, is the one that I have indicated, but maybe we had better hear the Secretary of State on this.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I think that there is a remarkable agreement, in fact, that nobody wants to help Milosevic or his cronies. Therefore, in terms of looking at what kind of assistance is appropriate, we are in fact talking about humanitarian assistance. President Clinton made that quite clear early on. I think the issue here is exactly how to do what can be done to move the people of Serbia into pushing for democratization. I think that will be very much a part of the discussion of the Stability Pact meeting in Sarajevo, that there will be a place in the Stability Pact for a democratic Serbia. That is, so to speak, the incentive, I think, that has been held out. We are not trying to punish the Serbian people, but we do not want to do anything to support Milosevic and his government that was responsible for such massacres and generally appalling behavior regarding the Kosovars.

QUESTION: Could you both please address the slow process of reconstruction. Is this a problem of the UN getting things in gear or is this, as some U N official have charged, a NATO problem? And Madam Secretary, given the slow pace, is the 500 million dollars the United States has pledged going to be enough?

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Clearly one would wish that this were moving faster. On the other hand, I think in comparison to other operations of this size, as they are being set up, that this is moving forward. There needs to be very good cooperation between KFOR and the United Nations. After all, the KFOR is not even in there yet at full strength. It is very important that the UN process the people that are being offered assistance, such as the police, and get the reconstruction effort underway.

I would like to make clear that while we have said that the process is not moving as rapidly as we would like, this is not the time to be critical of the United Nations. It is an organization that has huge responsibilities here. We are supporting it. We all are, after all, we are all the United Nations, so I think it is essential that we give it all the support. I think that what is remarkable is the rapidity with which the refugees have returned to Kosovo. In fact, and I will be able to see more tomorrow in Pristina, there frankly has been less damage than initially feared. So I think that we have to assess it, and everybody has to do their job. I think that the 500 million dollars is a very good start, and it shows the generosity of the American people.

FOREIGN MINISTER DINI: I agree fully with the statement. There is only our desire to see that the process moves on as rapidly as possible considering the constraints.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]

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